Nuclear Iran

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From Foreign Policy in the Middle East | The Ayn Rand Institute:

The diplomatic talks over Iran’s nuclear program have culminated in a deal. The particular terms—at least those that have been disclosed—are predictably ominous. Despite stringent-sounding limitations and inspections, the deal effectively clears the path for the Islamic Republic of Iran to cheat and game its way toward nuclear capability. For more than a decade, deception has been the hallmark of Iran’s quest for nuclear technology; why expect that to change now? Clearly, this is a bad deal, but the debate over what a “better” deal should look like ignores the underlying problem: to engage Iran in diplomacy is to disregard and downplay that regime’s vicious character and goals.

Cartoon by cox&forkum.

Che Seattle

Emil Venkov / Depiction: InSapphoWeTrust at Flickr (CC-A) https://www.flickr.com/photos/skinnylawyer/8002254736/

Emil Venkov / Depiction: InSapphoWeTrust at Flickr (CC-A)

From Get rid of single-family zoning? These conversations shouldn’t be secret | The Seattle Times:

Most dramatically, the committee is considering a recommendation to do away with single-family zoning — which for a hundred-plus years has been the defining feature of Seattle’s strong neighborhood feel.

“We can still be a city for everyone, but only if we give up our outdated ideal of every family living in their own home on a 5,000 square foot lot,” a draft letter from the committee co-chairs reads.

The draft report notes that “Seattle (single-family) zoning has roots in racial and class exclusion and remains among the largest obstacles to realizing the city’s goals for equity and affordability.”

The committee of citizen volunteers voted 19-3 to recommend replacing single-family zoning with a “lower density residential zone” that would allow duplexes, triplexes, rooming houses and more backyard cottages and mother-in-law units in areas now dominated by single houses on lots with a yards. It’s unclear how much of the city this would include.

Later, the committee co-chairs issued a statement saying the group “has no intention of recommending the elimination of all single family zones in the city.” But the draft report suggests the committee was considering exactly that.

“In fact, (the committee) recommends we abandon the term ‘single family zone,’ ” the draft reads.

 

WSJ: Immigrants Commit Less Violent Crime

From The Mythical Connection Between Immigrants and Crime – WSJ:

…numerous studies going back more than a century have shown that immigrants—regardless of nationality or legal status—are less likely than the native population to commit violent crimes or to be incarcerated. A new report from the Immigration Policy Center notes that while the illegal immigrant population in the U.S. more than tripled between 1990 and 2013 to more than 11.2 million, “FBI data indicate that the violent crime rate declined 48%—which included falling rates of aggravated assault, robbery, rape, and murder. Likewise, the property crime rate fell 41%, including declining rates of motor vehicle theft, larceny/robbery, and burglary.”

A separate IPC paper from 2007 explains that this is not a function of well-behaved high-skilled immigrants from India and China offsetting misdeeds of Latin American newcomers. The data show that “for every ethnic group without exception, incarceration rates among young men are lowest for immigrants,” according to the report. “This holds true especially for the Mexicans, Salvadorans, and Guatemalans who make up the bulk of the undocumented population.”

It also holds true in states with large populations of illegal residents. A 2008 report by the Public Policy Institute of California found that immigrants are underrepresented in the prison system. “The incarceration rate for foreign-born adults is 297 per 100,000 in the population, compared [with] 813 per 100,000 for U.S.-born adults,” the study concludes. “The foreign-born, who make up roughly 35% of California’s adult population, constitute 17% of the state prison population.”

[…]

Every immigrant here illegally has already broken a law, though that doesn’t mean they are predisposed to crime. In a 2005 paper, the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago reported that more recently arrived immigrants are even less crime-prone than their predecessors. In 1980 the incarceration rate of foreign nationals was about one percentage point below natives. A decade later that had fallen to a little more than a percentage point, and by 2000 it was almost three percentage points lower.

[…]

How do you balance border security and labor-market demand? Should relatives of people already here continue to be given an immigration preference? Is it time to move toward a skills-based immigration system similar to Canada’s? How should the federal government treat border states and cities that bear the upfront costs of illegal entries? Is walling off the southern border feasible? Would it make the U.S. safer? And what should be done about the estimated 12 million undocumented people already living here?

Obama’s Nuclear Agreement with Iran

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From Altruism and the Cave-in to Iran:

Forget about the intricate details of our nuclear agreement with Iran—the number of centrifuges permitted, the degree of uranium enrichment allowed, the amount of advance notification required before inspectors can visit a nuclear facility. There is really only one question that matters: If an Iranian nuclear capacity poses an objective threat to America—if we have reason to fear that such weapons will be used aggressively against uswhy are we relying for our safety on an agreement with the aggressor?

England has nuclear weapons. So does France. So does Israel. Yet we don’t have a need to sign treaties in which these nations promise not to take actions that threaten us. Their weapons are not a danger to us because they are essentially free countries and they do not live by conquest. They do not dictatorially subjugate people, neither their own citizens nor those of other countries. They recognize—however inconsistently—the value of liberty. They do not regard America as a fundamental enemy. A nuclear Iran, by contrast, is a danger to us. It is a theocracy which subjugates its own people and which seeks militarily to extend its power beyond its borders. If its government is willing to initiate force against us, how will it be deterred by its promise not to? A “contract” with Iran makes as much sense as a “contract” between the police and a criminal gang.

To put it differently, the only party with which an agreement to refrain from using force can have any meaning is a party with which such an agreement is unnecessary.

Why, then, is this disastrous treaty with Iran being pushed?

AUDIO: Where does Ayn Rand fit into academic philosophy?

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From Episode 73: Greg Salmieri discusses Ayn Rand’s moral philosophy – Elucidations:

This month, we discuss Ayn Rand’s moral philosophy with Greg Salmieri, who teaches at Rutgers University and Stevens Institute of Technology and is co-secretary of the American Philosophical Association’s Ayn Rand Society. Click here to listen to our conversation.

But wait: Ayn Rand is most famous for her novels The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged. Where does she fit into mainstream, professional philosophy? Does she fit in at all? Salmieri encourages us to consider Rand with the perspective we afford others who have proven pivotal in philosophy: say, Descartes and Locke. In their own day, Descartes and Locke both did much else besides philosophy; but their larger critiques involved philosophy, and were deepened all the more so because they did not restrict themselves to their day’s philosophy. Those critiques have gone on to shape philosophy profoundly, so much so that today we can take their once-unique approaches for granted – and so we can take their being philosophers for granted. Perhaps we do not yet appreciate the impact Ayn Rand can ultimately have on philosophy?

Regardless of her present or future recognition as a philosopher, Salmieri unearths for us a wealth of ideas from Rand’s work. Rand did above all strive to be a novelist, especially in the romantic tradition of Victor Hugo. But as a novelist, she wrote of epic moral conflicts motivated by people passionately committed to particular values – particular moral philosophies. This broached her probing of what makes a value at once right and objective, but not impersonal or imposed. And it related to her more explicitly controversial perspectives, exemplified not least in her book titled The Virtue of Selfishness.

Join us as Greg Salmieri helps us further make sense of this and other ideas in Ayn Rand’s moral philosophy.

Free Speech and Religion: Interview with Philosopher Onkar Ghate

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The Undercurrent has an excellent interview with Onkar Ghate on Free Speech vs. Religion:

Dr. Onkar Ghate is a senior fellow and the Chief Content Officer at the Ayn Rand Institute. He has written and lectured extensively on philosophy and serves as Dean for the Institute’s Objectivist Academic Center in Irvine, CA. The Undercurrent’s Jon Glatfelter had the privilege of interviewing Dr. Ghate regarding the recent shooting at the “Draw Muhammad” cartoon contest in Garland, Texas, as well as religion and free speech more broadly.

The Undercurrent: Many of the major U.S. media players, including CNN and FOX, still have not published the cartoon contest’s winning piece. Why do you think that is?

Dr. Ghate: I haven’t kept tabs on which outlets have and have not published that cartoon, but there were similar responses in regard to the Charlie Hebdo cartoons and, before that, the Danish cartoons in 2005-2006. Sometimes a media outlet would try to explain why it is not showing its audience a crucial element of the news story, and I think these explanations have revealed a mixture of motives at work.

Here’s a non-exhaustive list: fear, cowardice, appeasement, sympathy. Let me say a word on each. Some media outlets are afraid of violent reprisals and of the ongoing security costs that would be necessary to protect staff. And because the U.S. government refuses to take an unequivocal stand in defense of the right to free speech, the totalitarians are emboldened, which makes violent reprisals more likely. So that’s one reason. But despite this legitimate fear, I do think there is often an element of cowardice. The likelihood of an attack can be overstated, and of course if more news outlets publish the cartoons, it is more and more difficult to intimidate and attack them all, and less and less likely that a particular organization will be singled out. Here there is strength in numbers. A third motive is the appeaser’s false hope that if he gives in and doesn’t publish the cartoons, he will have satisfied the attackers and no further threats or demands will follow. Finally, many are sympathetic: out of deference to the non-rational, faith-based emotions of Muslims, they don’t publish the cartoons, even though those cartoons are news. They view the cartoonists and publishers as the troublemakers and villains. (The roots of this sympathy I think are complex and often ugly.)

The Undercurrent: Some have condemned the contest’s organizer, Pamela Geller, and the winning artist, Bosch Fawstin. They say there’s a world of difference between good-natured free expression and malicious speech intended solely to antagonize. What do you think?

Dr. Ghate: I disagree with many things that I’ve heard Pamela Gellar say but I refuse to discuss her real or alleged flaws when totalitarians are trying to kill her, as though those flaws, even if real, justify or mitigate the actions of the aspiring killers. The New York Times editorial to which you link is a disgrace. After a sanctimonious paragraph saying that we all have the right to publish offensive material and that no matter how offensive that material may be, it does not justify murder, the rest of the editorial goes on to criticize the victim of attempted murder. As my colleague and others have noted, this is like denouncing a rape victim instead of her rapists.

And notice what the editorial glosses over: in the first paragraph stating that offensive material does not justify murder, it concludes with the seemingly innocuous point that “it is incumbent on leaders of all religious faiths to make this clear to their followers.”

This is the actual issue. Why don’t you similarly have to tell a group of biochemists or historians, when they disagree about a theory, that their disagreements don’t justify murdering each other? The answers lies in the difference between reason and faith, as I’m sure we’ll discuss, a difference the editorial dares not discuss.

But contra the editorial, the Garland event had a serious purpose. Look at the winning cartoon: it makes a serious point.

Read the rest of Free Speech vs. Religion: An Interview with Onkar Ghate – The Undercurrent:

Comic Book Legal Defense Fund Shuns Actual Cartoonist Under Fire

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From Bosch Fawstin: CBLDF Writes About “Cartoonists Under Fire” while ignoring This Cartoonist who was Literally Under Fire:

The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, which I’ve been a supporter of until now, just released the second issue of “Defender” which focuses on “Cartoonists UnderFire”, and they completely ignore the Mohammad cartoon contest & Garland jihadist attack where this cartoonist was Literally Under Fire.
Comments Mitchell Berger on Fawstin’s blog on his view of CBDLF’s position:
I was a founding board member of the CBDLF, but I speak only for myself here. Let me start off by saying that I liked your cartoon. It expresses the political cartoonist’s credo perfectly. But it is impossible to separate it from the context of it’s creation. Pamela Geller, the President of the American Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI) sponsored the contest.

Fawstin, therefore, is guilty by association with a “right-wing” organization.

Apparently, CBLDF only defends speech they agree with — and not freedom of speech on principle. The latter which is best expressed by a quote from Beatrice Evelyn Hall’s line attributed to Voltaire: “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”

Unless you are the so-called Comic Book Legal Defense Fund.

 

Marva Collins: The World Loses an American Education Giant

From Marva Collins, Educator Who Aimed High for Poor, Black Students, Dies at 78 – The New York Times:

Marva Collins, a former substitute teacher whose success at educating poor black students in a private school she founded made her a candidate for secretary of education and the subject of a television movie, died on Wednesday in a hospice near her home in South Carolina. She was 78. […] After working as a substitute teacher for 14 years in Chicago public schools, Ms. Collins cashed in her $5,000 in pension savings and opened Westside Preparatory School in 1975. The school originally operated in the basement of a local college and then, to be free of red tape (the same reason she said she had refused federal funds), in the second floor of her home.

She began with four students, including her daughter, charging $80 a month in tuition. Enrollment at the school, on Chicago’s South Side, grew to more than 200, in classes from prekindergarten through eighth grade. It remained in operation for more than 30 years.

Ms. Collins set high academic standards, emphasized discipline and promoted a nurturing environment. She taught phonics, the Socratic method and the classics and, she insisted, never expected her students to fail.

“Kids don’t fail,” she once said. “Teachers fail, school systems fail. The people who teach children that they are failures — they are the problem.”

At Westside Prep, she said in 2004 when she was awarded the National Humanities Medal, “there are no dropouts, no substitute teachers, and when teachers are absent, the students teach themselves.”

“We’re an anomaly in a world of negatives,” she added. “Our children are self-motivated, self-generating, self-propelled.”

An article about the school in 1977 in The Chicago Sun-Times attracted national attention, an interview on “60 Minutes” and the interest of filmmakers, who went on to produce “The Marva Collins Story,” a 1981 television movie on CBS with Cicely Tyson playing Ms. Collins and Morgan Freeman as her husband. […] As her stature as an educator grew, she began to train other teachers from around the country and published several books, including “ ‘Ordinary’ Children, Extraordinary Teachers” and “Marva Collins’ Way,” written with Civia Tamarkin. Speaking engagements followed.

In 1980, President-elect Ronald Reagan was said to be leaning toward choosing Ms. Collins for secretary of education, but she said she would reject the job if it were offered. By that time she had already turned down offers to run the public school systems in Chicago and Los Angeles. […]

She insisted that she never craved awards or publicity. All she wanted, she told The Island Packet, the local newspaper, in 2007, was “to be able to say I got an A-plus on the assignment God gave me.”

You can read some comments from past students at jetmag.com.

BOOKS: Is Sexual Orientation a Choice?

Capitalism Magazine contributor Ron Pisaturo has released a new book called “Masculine Power, Feminine Beauty: The Volitional, Objective Basis for Heterosexuality in Romantic Love and Marriage.”

According to the book description:

This book presents a theory of heterosexual romantic love. The book argues that heterosexuality enables romantic love in a way that integrates with all aspects of a man and woman, including masculine power and feminine beauty. Author Ronald Pisaturo identifies differences between men and women while recognizing the utmost intellectual ability, rationality, and resultant moral virtue possible in equal measure to each sex. He argues that sexual orientation is the result of volition in the same way that other values pertaining to romantic love are volitional: although we do not directly choose our sexual orientation, as we do not directly choose what personality traits will attract us, we do make more basic choices that cause our sexual orientation.

Pisaturo debunks the mainstream theories that “affirm” non-heterosexual orientations, and argues that objective cognition—in particular, the holding of concepts that clearly identify and emphasize sex-specific romantic values—requires that the concept of marriage refer only to man-woman relationships. Moreover, the proper role of government in marriage is as protector of individual rights—of the husband, wife, and their children—not as social engineer for the ‘public good’.

This book offers an objective alternative to the mysticism of religion and the subjectivism of much of modern philosophy, science, and culture.

An overarching theme of the book is that every individual should understand the personal, chosen values that are consistent with his own sexual orientation. The author offers, in good will, this challenge to all readers: “I can explain my sexual orientation. Can you explain yours?”

The book makes many arguments — some we are not sure we agree with — but it looks interesting enough that it deserves a read.

SCOTUS same-sex marriage ruling was right decision based on dubious reasoning

From A great decision on same-sex marriage – but based on dubious reasoning – The Washington Post:

Today’s Supreme Court decision on same-sex marriage is a great result, but based on dubious reasoning. It is undoubtedly a momentous occasion for gays and lesbians around the nation. In a comparatively short time, they have moved from being a widely despised minority whose intimate relationships were criminalized in many states, to full marriage equality around the country.

For gays and lesbians seeking the right to marry and for many of us who have supported their cause, the result in today’s case matters more than the reasoning. But the Court’s legal reasoning also deserves attention, both because it is important in its own right, and because it establishes a precedent for future cases. Unfortunately, much of Justice Anthony Kennedy’s majority opinion is based on dubious and sometimes incoherent logic.

Gay rights advocates have advanced several different rationales for a constitutional right to same-sex marriage. In my view, the strongest is that laws banning same-sex marriage discriminate on the basis of sex, much like laws banning interracial marriage discriminate on the basis of race – a position defended in an amicus brief I coauthored with Prof. Andrew Koppelman. But some of the other rationales for a right to same-sex marriage are also plausible, particularly the theory that laws banning it engage in unconstitutional discrimination against gays and lesbians.

Unfortunately, Justice Kennedy’s majority opinion doesn’t clearly endorse any of the various arguments previously advanced for a right to same-sex marriage, even as it to some degree nods at all of them. The result is a far from satisfying majority opinion.

Why We Love Taylor Swift

From Taylor Swift – To Apple, Love Taylor:

To Apple, Love Taylor

I write this to explain why I’ll be holding back my album, 1989, from the new streaming service, Apple Music. I feel this deserves an explanation because Apple has been and will continue to be one of my best partners in selling music and creating ways for me to connect with my fans. I respect the company and the truly ingenious minds that have created a legacy based on innovation and pushing the right boundaries.

I’m sure you are aware that Apple Music will be offering a free 3 month trial to anyone who signs up for the service. I’m not sure you know that Apple Music will not be paying writers, producers, or artists for those three months. I find it to be shocking, disappointing, and completely unlike this historically progressive and generous company.

This is not about me. Thankfully I am on my fifth album and can support myself, my band, crew, and entire management team by playing live shows. This is about the new artist or band that has just released their first single and will not be paid for its success. This is about the young songwriter who just got his or her first cut and thought that the royalties from that would get them out of debt. This is about the producer who works tirelessly to innovate and create, just like the innovators and creators at Apple are pioneering in their field…but will not get paid for a quarter of a year’s worth of plays on his or her songs.

These are not the complaints of a spoiled, petulant child. These are the echoed sentiments of every artist, writer and producer in my social circles who are afraid to speak up publicly because we admire and respect Apple so much. We simply do not respect this particular call.

I realize that Apple is working towards a goal of paid streaming. I think that is beautiful progress. We know how astronomically successful Apple has been and we know that this incredible company has the money to pay artists, writers and producers for the 3 month trial period… even if it is free for the fans trying it out.

Three months is a long time to go unpaid, and it is unfair to ask anyone to work for nothing. I say this with love, reverence, and admiration for everything else Apple has done. I hope that soon I can join them in the progression towards a streaming model that seems fair to those who create this music. I think this could be the platform that gets it right.

But I say to Apple with all due respect, it’s not too late to change this policy and change the minds of those in the music industry who will be deeply and gravely affected by this. We don’t ask you for free iPhones. Please don’t ask us to provide you with our music for no compensation.

Taylor

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